Album Review: Excess – Escape From Brisbane

I’ve never been to Brisbane, but I can guarantee it’s got the best music in Australia right now. There’s glistening synth punk, spleen-splitting punk rock, and garage rock that used to be around when The Hard-Ons were considered offensive. Basically, Brissy is full of the kind of music your Mum would hate, or love. I don’t know your Mum, she could be really cool. To expand,  it appears like Brisbane is the last bastion of consistently authentic music, whatever the genre might be.

At the centre of all this is Matt Kennedy, a guy who’s been plugging around the area for a long time. And when I say long time, I don’t mean that he was there when Royal Headache were playing shows, I mean he was there when Green Day were considered socially relevant. He’s played in a variety of bands, most famously the decrepit and gnarled lo-fi depression of Kitchen’s Floor. He’s also the man behind Eternal Soundcheck, a record label and distribution service that have lent a helping hand to the likes of R.I.P Society, Tenth Court and Cool Death, amongst many others. On the label side, he’s brought out records by The Friendsters, Satanic Rockers and Fig. From the outpost of Brisbane, this bloke has been a central figure in breathing life into not just his local area, but all of Australia, most likely putting in the hard yards at a time when no one else was either.

So it comes as no surprise that folks would’ve been jumping out of their pub stools to contribute to EXCESS, Mr. Kennedy’s solo electro-face-fuck project. A true who’s-who of Brisbane’s most glorious bands has been compiled to provide vocals for this album, and when reading through the list of guests, a rush of air will inexplicably escape from your mouth. Daniel and Sarah of Blank Realm, Mark Spinks of Gravel Samwidge, Sean and Chris of Multiple Man and Andrew McLellan of Primitive Motion are just a few of the names to appear.

However, whilst each name that appears causes blood to rush to the head, it cannot be overstated that these folks are all guests on what is ultimately Matt’s project. Although each character is unique, they only build towards the final product, a single aesthetic that is remarkably different from the rest of the bands and projects on display. EXCESS is thrust from the middle of a sci-fi epic, one in which dyed corn-syrup blood and animal intestines are used to the most graphic extent possible. It’s like the most tense parts of The Lost Boys and Aliens are clashing amongst each other to the sound of off-kilter pop and church bells, slithering synths bellowing and chiming at a seemingly random pace.

As Gerald Keaney remarks that “A high quality stereo system is required to appreciate this track…”, you can’t help but believe that sentiment extends to the rest of the album. Not because the album is faulty and soft, and needs to be re-mastered, but rather because the twisting, unpredictable and lushly dystopian soundscapes of EXCESS deserve to be appreciated in such an environment. To play it on anything less is an insult.

Maybe Matt wants to escape from Brisbane. I’d hope not – who else would act as a facilitator of all the amazing music blossoming from that region. But by providing this mutating beast of a tape, and for all his previous saintly endeavours, he’s certainly earned himself a holiday.

Get yaself a copy of the album here: ‘Escape From Brisbane’, out now through Virtual Cool Records

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